Female rapper brings streets of Chicago to the cornfields of DeKalb

By Barb Lowden

DeKALB | Shawnna, the feisty rapper from the south side of Chicago, will storm the stage firing aggressive lyrical tornadoes tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Otto’s, 118 E. Lincoln Highway.

If you think you don’t know who she is, think again. Shawnna’s voice is featured in Ludacris’ “What’s Your Fantasy,” “Stand Up,” and “How Low.” She has also rhymed her way through songs with T-Pain, Twista, Tech N9ne, Christina Milian, and Ben One.

Although often compared to Nicki Minaj, the two have hardly anything in common, other than being female rappers. Shawnna comes from the south side of Chicago, and her raps often vent about life in the city. She rhymes to heavy, fast beats like the hip-hop masters and can keep up with the best of them — as showcased in “R.P.M.,” a fast-paced lyrical tongue twister she recorded with Twista for her debut album, Worth tha Weight.

Shawnna started her rap career in 1996 with the female rap duo, Infamous Syndicate, but, the daughter of the famous blues musician Buddy Guy, Shawnna has been surrounded by music since birth. She went on to be the first female artist to join Ludacris’ Disturbing Tha Peace record label. . Now, Shawnna has two solo albums, including her 2006 release, Block Music, which reached the No. 2 spot on Billboard’s Rap Albums chart.

“She blew me away when I first saw her rap,” said Chaka Zulu, Def Jam South Vice President and DTP executive in a news release.

While Shawnna has made it clear that she can hold her own in the world of Hip Hop that is dominated by men, she does have a vice. In her effort to showcase a variety of song styles, she fails to create a personal style all for herself. The difference between her songs “R.P.M.” and “Damn” is extreme. This inconsistency holds her back from creating a unique sound that could be the push she needs to reach the levels of infamous artists such as Ludacris and T-Pain. However her ability to keep her lyrics fresh and real is refreshing.

“Hip-hop… [is] always an expression for our generation so that’s why I’ve chosen it,” Shawnna said in her online biography. “It’s the real thing.”

To see her live and experience her fiery lyrics for yourself, check out Otto’s Niteclub & Underground tonight at 7:30 p.m. where she will appear along with G Baby, local heroes State Champs, and Shiest T.

The show is $15 and for ages 21 and up.